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Time for a CMM History Lesson


The older I get, the harder it is for me to remember dates and occasions. So, odd as it may seem, I place events in time by their relationship to other industry events having a cyclical nature. CMM is one of those mile markers that helps me remember where and what I was doing all the way back to 1981.

My managing editor Claudia Hine tells me I’m stranger than most people, as men typically remember events by wars and women by marriages and babies. So I’m "exceptional," but in the future I’ll remember 2005 and what I was doing as the year I visited shows—lots of them.

It’s interesting to note some CMM history from my own 27 years of personal memories, as our industry prepares for its fifteenth edition of the show. Having grown out of Pack Expo to a status deserving its own venue for the first time in 1977, the first CMM I attended was in October 1981 in Atlantic City. I recall, even as a reporter covering the event with free access to all conference sessions, there was standing room only—and even that was limited! Credit for the conference sessions’ overwhelming success went to Norm Abrams, industry consultant and a former contributor to PFFC with a monthly column entitled "Profit Probe." Norm’s roots were from the package converting industry, and he was recognized for his contributions with CMM’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989. After his death from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in March 1990, the Lifetime Achievement Award was named in his honor in 1991.

Since that time, with Norm as the standard, recognition has gone to Janice Meister of Bagcraft, Arthur Herschafter of Paxar, David Hofmann of Graphic Packaging, Dennis Mehiel of Four M, Roy Jablonka of Glenroy, Alan Leeson of Spectrum Label, and Christian Hanson of Douglas-Hanson.

This year’s prestigious honor, which has since been modified to "Converter of the Year," is bestowed on Rick Hocking, plant manager at Banner Packaging, a div. of Bemis Co.

Here is a man who rose through the rank and file from press helper in 1978 to printing department manager in 1985, and finally plant manager in 1999. CMM International’s Ian Johnston remarks, "Rick Hocking’s selection as this year’s Converter of the Year for his excellence and dedication to flexographic printing emphasizes the variety of technologies represented at CMM International. Our previous honorees have included people specializing in coating and film converting, labels, flexible package printing, boxmaking, corrugated and education."

Hocking is the former chairman of the board of directors of the Flexographic Technical Assn. (2001-2003). This spring, he completed his second three-year term on both the FTA and the Foundation of Flexographic Technical Assn. board of trustees. He’s no stranger to the speaker circuit at FTA workshops, has been a panelist on Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications and Tolerances (FIRST) Road Shows, participated on the FTA’s Wide-Web Leadership Council, and is presently the vice chair of the FTA Technical Advancement Council.

In a year practically littered with converting- related shows within a relatively short period of time, Hocking will stand head and shoulders above the fray as shows compete for converters’ attention and vendors’ dollars for exhibiting. As potential show attendees, you may feel pulled in several directions. In comparison to previous editions of CMM, it’s indisputable the show is smaller. At 260,000 sq ft of exhibit space and 500 exhibitors, the show is by far physically smaller than CMM5 in 1985, which had 400 exhibitors in 350,000 sq ft of space. Times have changed with exhibitors less inclined to display huge equipment, largely due to the cost of shipping, among other reasons. There are also more shows to which vendors must ship their equipment, and the cost of exhibiting is progressively more expensive.

With the rumored-imminent sale of CMM, it’s anyone’s guess how it will succeed against Print ’05/Converting Expo and the new Las Vegas-based Converting & Package Printing Expo (to be staged at the same time as Pack Expo West), all in September.

We may be in for writing some new history!

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